Cris Carter critiques Sidney Rice

Former Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter had only two days to work with Sidney Rice last summer, but he was brutally honest with him. Carter remained brutally honest and critical of Rice on Wednesday after Vikings practice. See what Carter had to say about Rice's technique, his work ethic and comparisons to Randy Moss. He held no punches.

Former Vikings receiver Cris Carter is once again a Hall of Fame finalist and continues to stay active in developing current NFL wide receivers, with Larry Fitzgerald one of his prized pupils.

Carter's work ethic during his 16 seasons was evident by the fact that he played a full 16-game schedule in 13 of his 16 years. In 2000, he became only the second receiver to catch 1,000 passes. He also recorded 1,000-yard receiving seasons eight years in a row and broke the 100-yard mark in 42 games. Carter caught 130 touchdowns from 13 different passers. When he retired, he was second on the NFL's all-time list for total receptions (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130). He also was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s and the 1999 NFL Man of the Year, among other honors.

This summer, Carter helped train Vikings receiver Sidney Rice and gave his typically honest assessments of Rice's abilities and work ethic after attending the Vikings' practice on Wednesday.

Q: What did you see from him (Rice) when he was working out with you?

Cris Carter:
"The first, initial (impression) I think was a little more shocked. I was really surprised just how poor his technique was. I was like, ‘You're not no good.' I knew I had a short period of time and he had a little injury, so I was really trying to get down to the root of it. I was trying to knock him down first, like, ‘You're not any good. My son, a high school player, he does these drills every day and he'll run circles around you. I wish he was here.' And then I could see he was trying to get information.

He didn't take the young approach (saying), ‘He (Carter) doesn't know what he's talking about.' He (Rice) was trying to grab the information. And then when he started do that, he opened up his mind and we started teaching him some different things, things he had never seen before. I was trying to get him, as a big receiver, how to play small, how to play quick. That's what I was really trying to teach him and trying to give him some things that would help him out. Larry Fitzgerald was talking and he calls me Uncle Cris. He said, ‘Uncle Cris, how good do you think he is? Let's eat lunch.' I said, ‘I wasn't impressed with the workout this morning, so let's eat lunch and when we play basketball tonight, invite Sidney to come.' He invited him, Sidney came, we played basketball. We ended up playing a couple days, but then I could start to see what Larry and myself did that he could do on the basketball court and I could transfer that to being a wide receiver. I could see that he was just like a big basketball player and all he needed to do was get a little bit healthy and get a little bit of quickness to help him get some separation."

Q: What was it about his technique that left you unimpressed? Was he just raw?

"Just not good. I worked with receivers at all levels and I pretty much have seen it all. But for him to be going into his third year in the pros, what I was trying to tell him is he should have been far more advanced – like, you don't even know what it is to be a pro receiver. How many balls did you catch this week? What kind of drills do you do after practice? He's a young kid. They're just trying to survive and make it. When they get to the NFL, at the end of the day they don't know to stay extra. And with being injured he was very, very frustrated."

Q: How much do you think your workouts helped him keep injury-free this year? As you said, he struggled with a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament knee injury). Do you think that the work ethic he saw out of you guys transferred?

"I tried to tell him, ‘I do more drills than you. I've been retired seven years and we're doing cone drills and all that stuff and you're looking at me like …' I said, ‘This is what pro receivers do. This is what they look like. They don't look like that. They're not clumsy like that. They can pick up their feet. They can put their foot in the ground. They can separate. They can do all those things.' We talked about the work, what it takes, the time that you have to spend and you've got to take care of your body. You've got to get some rest. You've got to get some sleep. You've got to get massage. You've got to get chiropractor. Get people to prepare your food for you. He's eating junk food. I just told him, ‘You're not a professional receiver. Even though people are paying you, you're not from the way I consider you to be a professional receiver.'"

Q: How did he take that?

"It was great. I'm pretty brutal. Plus, I knew I only had him two days."

Q: I thought you worked together longer than that.

"He came in (and) I was already in town for a couple days before he finally got hooked up with me. And I had already been in the previous week to work with Larry … and a bunch of other receivers and stuff. Then what we'll do is stay in contact with each other. We have a mutual friend and get updates and checking on him. What he did was he took some of the scolding from me and he took some of the drills and then he started listening to Coach Stew (receivers coach George Stewart) because you can't do nothing a million miles away. You can have very little impact. The thing about it is, he realized it's all the same stuff Coach Stew had been telling him. All that staying after practice, getting the extra reps, getting your rest, take care of your body. All of those things are very, very important for your mental state as a professional athlete. When we left, I thought there was a chance he could be good, but I wasn't sure about the quarterbacking situation. I told him this. I said, ‘Unless you play with someone great, you can only be so good in this league … because they can't get you the ball and they can't make the adjustments and they can't do the things."

Q: When you watch him on TV or any tape you may see, do you see the technique improvements that you talked to him about?

"He's a totally different person as a player, if that makes sense. He's still the same old humble country guy from South Carolina, but as a player he's totally different because the light came on and he had success and he's getting healthy. The thing about here is you don't have to be the lead dog every game, and I think that was critical for him because I didn't think he was ready for that."

Q: You only had two days with him. You wanted to be hard on him on purpose or was that just a product of the workouts?

"I'm pretty hard on him anyway. For one, I had already been there two days and he wasn't there."

Q: Was he planning on being there?

"He knew I was here, OK, because we have the mutual friend. He knew I was here and he knew I was working with Larry and other NFL and college receivers. So when he showed up on the third day, I'm like, ‘I don't care who you are. You ain't nobody to me.' When we started doing the drills, I was like, ‘Whew. Wait a second. You don't do any cone drills after practice? You don't do any footwork (on the) sidelines?' I was like, ‘You're not a pro receiver. I know you're not eating right. I know you're not getting the proper rest. I know you're not spending any extra time in the weight room.' I'm like, ‘What are you doing?'"

Q: How much appreciation has he expressed to you this season, text messages? Has there been any communication?

"Yeah, but to me that's not a big deal. I don't get into what they give me back. I feel more obligated as someone who has a relationship with these guys that I'm supposed to teach them. Once I teach them, some of them stay for a long time – Larry is the only one I have like that. I don't sit and wait (for thanks). I'm not into that. I'm into them trying to get to the next level as a player, wherever that might take them."

Q: Do you know if he's planning to come back and do this again this summer?

"He don't have no choice. We'll probably be up here like four weeks after the OTAs (organized team activities) and everything. Larry and I were talking about it yesterday, trying to get some more quarterbacks. The thing I told Sidney is if you're going to be a pro receiver, this is what we do. This is how we act. This is how we work. This is how it is. It's not just me. If you with Reggie Wayne, Torry Holt, Andre Johnson – them guys, they work at this. This is a craft that you'll never master."

Q: People have compared what he's done this year and his style of play to Randy Moss.

"No, sir. Stop."

Q: You hear that, don't you?

"No. I don't hear that. I stop people."

Q: You don't see any similarities beside the speed?

"No. Randy Moss has been in the league two years, two of them years in Oakland. Nine out of those 12 years in the NFL he scored 10 touchdowns."

Q: Any similarities in their third years in the league?

"Randy scored 17 touchdowns his first year in the league, the first time the league seen him. Do ya'll know how good Randy was? Ya'll trippin' or something?"

Q: Do you see any potential for Rice to be that?

"No. Man, Randy Moss is phenomenal. And what he does to a defense, no one can do. He can take the top off a defense. Ya'll think Wes Welker would catch 113? Don't get into the Moss (comparisons). Moss is a rare guy. He is the most talented receiver that I have ever worked with."

Q: Go beyond just what you've worked with. Most talented you've ever seen?

"He's the most talented receiver ever. Now Jerry Rice is the best receiver ever because he's the hardest worker and he was very, very talented. But Randy Moss is the most talented receiver ever. He can do things small guys can't do."

Q: Anybody else like Percy Harvin or Bernard Berrian that you might work with?

"I worked with Percy before. I used to be down at the University of Florida. I've been with them for a few years. This is the way I normally do it. Sidney is my guy here, OK? If them other guys want to come, it would be fine. But I don't go out of my way. Sidney is my guy. We've got a relationship. So if we're working out, he knows if we say we're going to be there, he knows that I'm going to get on the plane, fly up here. I can't get into chasing these guys around. And he's pretty close with Larry, so that makes it a lot easier on me."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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